NASCAR has formally entered the console eSports world. On Thursday, it, the Race Team Alliance, and 704Games announced plans to collaborate to create the eNASCAR Heat Pro League. Using the 704Games production NASCAR Heat 3, the sixteen-race inaugural season will kick off in 2019.
“We look forward to taking this first step with our teams to introduce NASCAR-style racing to the massive esports audience on consoles,” NASCAR Executive Vice President of Innovation and Development Craig Neeb stated in a press release. “Our partners at 704Games have delivered an incredible product and we are enthusiastic about engaging gamers to create new fans and grow our sport.”
Various NASCAR organisations will field two-player teams in the league, with one on Xbox One and the other on PlayStation 4. Those involved include NASCAR powerhouses Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and its Xfinity Series farm team JR Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing, and Team Penske.
A draft will be held in February for teams to select players, while the season will begin at the Monster Energy All-Star Race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.
RTA Executive Director Jonathan S. Marshall commented, “This is an exciting moment in NASCAR history. The race teams are taking this new league very seriously and will be looking for the best competitors in the nation to represent their respective teams. We expect the competition level will be high and we challenge these new esports drivers to become the best of the best.”
“This partnership creates a once in a lifetime opportunity for NASCAR Heat 3 players to work with a NASCAR race team and represent their team on a global esports platform,” 704Games CEO Paul Brooks said. “We’re excited to bring competitive online console racing to NASCAR and promote a greater engagement between fans and gamers with the eNASCAR Heat Pro League.”
The eNASCAR Heat Pro League is not NASCAR’s first foray into competitive video gaming. The body has sanctioned the Peak iRacing.com Series since 2010.
As the title implies, NASCAR Heat 3 is the third instalment in 704Games’ NASCAR Heat series. The game was released in September to mixed reviews; the PS4 version currently holds a 64% approval rating on Metacritic.
The Race Team Alliance is a thirteen-member union consisting of teams like the aforementioned four Cup teams and others. Founded in 2014, it is led by former Michael Waltrip Racing and current Chip Ganassi Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman.